Forthcoming in History of Human Sciences: The Psychosocial Dreamer, French Structural Anthropology

Two articles forthcoming in History of the Human Sciences, now available online, may interest AHP readers.

A ‘commonsense’ psychoanalysis: Listening to the psychosocial dreamer in interwar Glasgow psychiatry,” Sarah Phelan. Abstract:

This article historicises a dream analytic intervention launched in the 1930s by Scottish psychiatrist and future professor of psychological medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–73), Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–78). Intimate therapeutic meetings with five male patients are preserved within the so-called ‘dream books’, six manuscript notebooks from Rodger’s earlier career. Investigating one such case history in parallel with lecture material, this article elucidates the origins of Rodger’s adapted, rapport-centred psychotherapy, offered in his post-war National Health Service, Glasgow-based department. Oriented in a reading of the revealing fourth dream book, the article unearths a history of the reception and adaptation of psychoanalysis from within a therapeutic encounter and in a non-elite context. Situating Rodger’s psychiatric development in his Glasgow environment, it then contextualises the psychosocial narrative of the fourth book in relation to contrasting therapeutic commitments: an undiluted Freudianism and a pragmatic ‘commonsense’ psychotherapy, tempered to the clinical psychiatric, and often working-class, interwar Glasgow context. An exploration of pre-recorded dreams, transcribed free associations, and ‘weekly reports’ reveals that in practice, Rodger’s Meyerian attitude worked productively with Freudian techniques to ennoble the patient’s psychosocial testimony and personal wisdom. This psychotherapeutic eclecticism underpinned and made visible the patient’s concurrent faith in and resistance to psychoanalytic interpretation. Chronicling a collaborative route to psychotherapeutic knowledge within a discrete encounter, the article situates post-war treatment values in the interwar impasse of outpatient psychiatry.

Parallel structures: André Leroi-Gourhan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the making of French structural anthropology,” Jacob Collins. Abstract:

This article reframes our understanding of French structural anthropology by considering the work of André Leroi-Gourhan alongside that of Claude Lévi-Strauss. These two anthropologists worked at opposite poles of the discipline, Lévi-Strauss studying cultural objects, like myths and kinship relations; Leroi-Gourhan looking at material artifacts, such as stone tools, bones, arrowheads, and cave paintings. In spite of their difference in focus, these thinkers shared a similar approach to the interpretation of their sources: Each individual object was meaningful only as part of a larger whole. For Lévi-Strauss, structuralism was designed to unlock features of the human mind; for Leroi-Gourhan, to uncover the material processes that underlay human life. Again, in spite of their difference in orientation, both structuralisms produced similar theories of human society. Whether ‘primitive’ or ‘advanced’, all societies functioned the same way: Their institutions worked harmoniously, beyond the intentions of any individual actors, to preserve the stability of the group. This eliminated the basis for thinking one society was superior to another. Finally, the article argues that both Lévi-Strauss and Leroi-Gourhan believed that structural anthropology could found a ‘new humanism’, and thereby rescue modernity from moral degeneration. This ‘new humanism’ could not only produce a universal description of human nature, but also help rethink French colonialism, broker new geopolitical alliances, and prevent the erasure of world cultures. Structural anthropology thus imagined a tight relationship between its social-scientific work and its political-moral mission.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.